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Exchange Server Setups


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Hi there fellow server junkies. B)

The company I work for is wanting to bring email in house to help eliminate points of failure from our email provider.

Exchange is at the top of our email server software list currently and I was wondering what other companies are doing for physical setups. The proposed method from a consultant we talked to was to setup Exchange internally (on our domain and on the inside of our network) and have another server to host the mail services, antispam, antivirus, antiphishing etc running on IIS running outside the network.

To me that sounds stupid, one because I hate IIS and 2 because when were trying to eliminate points of failure we're having email running off of 2 boxes instead of one.

Anyone have any info they could lend me? Or M$ Exchange good or bad experiences?


Dan :ph34r:

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The proposed method sounds almost exactly like what I have implemented. Our Exchange server (still 2000) is on the inside and I have another server in the DMZ running Aladdin eSafe. For the most part it's been a fairly reliable setup. There was a time when eSafe was having horrible difficulties with getting hung up on certain kinds of attachments. Whatever their problem was, it seems to have been resolved.

I don't care what Microsoft says, it's not secure enough to be facing the Internet in my eyes. I would rather have a go between that would need to compromised first. And it's much easier to properly hunker down a dedicated SMTP relay in your DMZ than to try and work out all of the connection rules and protections of a naked Exchange server.

I'm actually looking to go in the opposite direction you are. We were recently accepted as a beta site for Google's Gmail hosted service. Unfortunately I can't get Google to give me any firm answers regarding what the cost will be, etc. So in the end, as much as it kills me, I may end up just sticking with Exchange.

Some things to keep in mind with Exchange. However much storage space you think will be enough, double it. Consider what you will need for a backup solution. If you already have something in place, then it should be a minimal cost for an Exchange back up plugin, but then the questions turn to tape capacity and / or how long will the backup take.

Training. How well versed are you with Exchange? As a Microsoft centric admin, I can tell you that Exchange operates a lot differently than most other Microsoft server products. There's a reason that they now have a whole separate certification for Exchange propeller heads. If something were to ever go seriously wrong with my server I'd be screwed. We would have to get in some specialists for sure.

Cost. It's expensive as hell. Not only to be properly licensed with everything (CALs, AV, Spam, backup, etc) but the cost in terms of labor. It's not a "set it and forget it" proposition. If you forget it, something will surely come up and bite you in the butt. I'm not meaning to scare you away or anything, but there's an awful lot to consider. Much more to consider than what I had considered when I decided to implement Exchange.

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In addition to RogueSpear's great analysis I would pose this question: do you need Exchange? You said that all you need is mail and Exchange is much more than that.

Perhaps all you need is a basic mail server? Could save you lots of time and money if you don't need the full Exchange setup.

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How many users/mailboxes are you going to be dealing with? Sure Exchange is great if you need all the bells and whistles (The company I work for does & I'm the Admin) ... But if you just need control of your E-mail, have less than 20-30 users, and no huge groth plans, the IIS POP3/SMTP server that comes with Win2k3 server works quite well. I've been running one at another location for a few years and have had no problems with it so far. Hell it's almost too simple to break.

Just a Thought

Stoic Joker

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